By Mu Zhen, Canada
I believed in the Lord with my mother when I was young, and was baptized in the church at 9. My mother was a leader of the local house church, and every time she had a meeting she took me along. She also took me to attend children’s meetings, and sometimes the bread-breaking meetings with uncles and aunties. When at home, she always taught me to read the Bible and pray to the Lord. Gradually, I knew that thewas personally crucified to redeem man from the hands of Satan, and that as long as we accepted His redemption, confessed and repented, we could enjoy the grace and blessings He bestowed upon us.
Although I believed in the Lord, I felt I had no change, and as my study load was becoming heavier, I attended church meetings less often. During my freshman year at college, I spent most of my time studying and taking part in college activities, and the rest in playing games, eating, drinking and having fun, so I didn’t even have the time to read the Bible or pray to the Lord, completely living like an unbeliever. At that time, I was always followed by a feeling of emptiness, as if something was missing in me. In my sophomore year, I began to reflect, “I’m a believer in the Lord and I’ve been baptized as a Christian. But I only busy myself with my own life, devoting all my time to my own likes and many diversions. I can’t even maintain a normal church life, nor do I pray to the Lord when encountering things. Am I still a Christian?” In my perplexity and pain, I prayed to the Lord, asking Him to give me a way out and allow me to return among brothers and sisters. On one occasion, my uncle introduced me to a believer’s family near my college, and I began to live a normal church life again. I was thankful to God for His leading.
Later on, after I lived a normal church life for some time, I came to find that my heart was still adrift in the world. At that time, I found a girlfriend who was an unbeliever, and I stayed with her every day. As a result, I became more and more abandoned to sensual gratification, and I didn’t have the slightest mind to study, have meetings or read the Bible. In attending meetings, I went through the motions and was absent-minded most of the time: I was there but my heart was with my girlfriend. Brothers and sisters reminded me to take a correct attitude toward love and not to stray away from the Lord because of love affairs. But instead of taking their advice, I allowed my heart to be fully occupied by my girlfriend. Later, I split up with her due to some disagreements, and then suffered from the breakup and the constant thoughts of the past days I spent with her. Consequently, I still had no mind to return before the Lord. Sometimes, I thought, “In the past, I indulged in eating, drinking and having fun, so I gave up the church life, and didn’t read the Bible or pray to the Lord. Now, I live the church life but I’m still debauched and distant from the Lord due to my indulgence in love. My behaviors can’t fulfill the Lord’s desire; I’m offending the Lord and committing sins.” This made me feel reproached and anguished, and I could only come before the Lord to confess and repent. I prayed to Him, “O Lord, I’m really a sinner. I believe in You, but my likes and pursuits are no different from those of the worldly people. I don’t have the likeness of a Christian. O Lord, please forgive my sin. I’m willing to repent.” But mycould only bring me temporary peace of mind; it couldn’t help me genuinely turn toward the Lord. I had tried so hard to change such a helpless and dissolute life, but I couldn’t find the way. This plagued me greatly. I also asked for advice from the brothers and sisters around me who had a greater spiritual stature, as well as the elders and the leaders, but none of them could point out a way for me.
Sometimes when I heard brothers and sisters in the church say some people were overcomers, I disagreed. Because I saw that they spoke nicely in the church, as if they loved the Lord very much, but their actions were not in accordance with the Lord’s will. They exalted themselves and showed themselves off when preaching sermons, schemed against each other and fought for fame and gain in private, so how could they be overcomers? I then thought of my mother. Although she was a leader, she also lived in sin and was unable to practice the Lord’s words. Before brothers and sisters, she behaved kindly, being gentle, considerate, patient and strong in spirit; at home she was quick to rage and to rebuke my father and me for not doing things according to her requirements. I asked her why she behaved completely different—being particularly gentle and patient to brothers and sisters in the church but always in hot blood at home. She couldn’t answer my question but only sighed helplessly, “You don’t understand how difficult it is to practice the truth.” Looking at the brothers and sisters, as well as the elders and pastors around me, I found none of them had broken free from sin or overcome Satan, so I was especially wondering how to get rid of the bondage of sin and overcome Satan to truly be cleansed. At that time, I often prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, when can I break away from sin and not sin anymore? Lord, I can’t see any hope now. Please open up a way out for me, so that I can get rid of the bondage of sin.”
At the end of March, 2018, I got acquainted with a sister on Facebook named Yang Wang. From her web pages I knew she is also a Christian and so we friended each other. In chatting with her, I found she could talk about knowledge of God, which greatly helped me. Once, she told me that her cousin Brother Zhang was a preacher who preached with great light, and invited me to go and listen. At that time, none of the church leaders or the brothers and sisters around me could solve my confusion, so if the foreign preacher had better insight and knowledge I thought I might as well have a listen. Therefore, I agreed.
When I first met Brother Zhang, we quickly talked about belief. He opened a spiritual book and read some words to me. Then he fellowshiped with me about what true belief in God means and what viewpoint believers should hold. Hearing that, I felt the words in the book were quite good and that Brother Zhang’s fellowship had great light. I began to like listening to his fellowship, which I felt was very beneficial for me.
On the second day, Brother Zhang and I talked about the return of the Lord, and we studied many prophecies about it in the Bible. Integrating Revelation 5:5—“Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof”—he fellowshiped with me, “Only the Lord can open the little book. When the Lord returns, He will reveal the mysteries in the little book, which refer to the utterances and words of God.” He also communicated with me, “In the time of the Old Testament, Jehovah God issued the law to lead the life of people, achieving the result of making people know their sins. In the time of the New Testament, the Lord Jesus did the redemptive work, attaining the result of making people confess and repent. In the last days, God speaks words and gives people new revelation, aiming to root out our sin.” “Then where is the small book now?” I asked curiously. Brother Zhang said, “It has already been opened. The words I read to you yesterday are from The Scroll Opened by the Lamb. They’re the personal utterances and words of God.” Hearing this, I was very much excited, “Wow, those words are actually from the small book. No wonder they are so good. It turns out that they’re the utterances and words of God.” Then I promptly poured out all my confusions, hoping for him to fellowship and solve them.
Two days later, I had a meeting with Brother Zhang again. I asked him, “We have believed in the Lord, and the Lord has forgiven our sins. But why are we still living in a state of committing sins and confessing them?” As to my question, he read to me two passages of God’s words: “At the time Jesus’ work was the redemption of all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed. Salvation did not mean man had been completely gained by Jesus, but that man was no longer of sin, that he had been forgiven his sins: Provided you believed, you would never more be of sin.” “Though man has been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it is only considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with man’s transgressions. However, when man lives in the flesh and he has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing the corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sin and forgiveness. The majority of men sin in the day only to confess in the evening. As such, even if the sin offering is forever effective for man, it would not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has corrupt disposition.”
After reading God’s words, Brother Zhang fellowshiped, “In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus was crucified for us mankind, and redeemed us from sin. It only means that the Lord Jesus has forgiven our sins; it doesn’t mean that there’s no sin in us. For example, we clearly know that pursuing the evil trends of the world is wrong, but we still can’t help but follow them and cling to sinful pleasures. For another example, the Lord asked us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to be tolerant and patient, but once others affect our personal interests, we’ll have a prejudice against them and hate them. Still, we know that God demands we be humble, but in our daily life we often reveal an arrogant disposition, belittling those who are of low caliber and who understand things slowly. … These manifestations more or less exist in us. Maybe sometimes we can restrain ourselves and betray our flesh to practice the Lord’s words, and our behaviors look good from the outside. But when the circumstances are right, we still fall back into our old wretched ways, without real transformation of our disposition. This shows that within us there’s still sin; dominated by our sinful nature, we still live in the vicious circle of committing sins and confessing them.”